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U.S. skiers pay tribute to pair killed in avalanche

David Chodounsky

ALTERNATIVE CROP OF ZAG116 - David Chodounsky, of the U.S., wears a black armband and a sticker on his helmet bearing the initials of the two teammates Ronnie Berlack, and Bryce Astleof as he competes during an alpine ski, men’s World Cup slalom in Sljeme, Zagreb, Croatia, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. U. S. Ski Team athletes competing at a World Cup slalom race in Croatia have joined in the mourning of two junior members who were killed in an avalanche in Austria. The seven starters for the United States, including Olympic giant slalom champion Ted Ligety, have worn black armbands during the race. The American flag in the finish area will by flying at half-staff. The International Ski Federation says a 30-second moment of silence will be held before the race starts at 3:05 p.m. (1405 GMT). Development team members Ronnie Berlack, 20, and Bryce Astle, 19, died Monday in the incident near the Rettenbach glacier in the mountains over Soelden, the U.S. Ski Team’s European training base since 2011. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)


U.S. Olympic Alpine skiers Ted Ligety and David Chodounsky were among the competitors in a World Cup race Tuesday who honored the memories of two U.S. development-level skiers who died in an avalanche Monday.

Ronnie Berlack, 20, and Bryce Astle, 19, were killed while freeskiing in Soelden, Austria.

Ligety and Chodounsky skied with Berlack and Astle’s initials on their helmets in a World Cup slalom in Zagreb, Croatia. All seven U.S. skiers in the field were to wear black armbands.

“It’s super sad losing Ronnie and Bryce, those are two young, promising guys on our team,” Ligety told media in Zagreb. “A lot of us are definitely a little beat up about it.”

Ligety, a two-time Olympic champion, and Chodounsky, a Sochi Olympian, are the top two U.S. slalom skiers. Ligety said there was no thought about not competing Tuesday.

“They’re racers, they wanted to be out there skiing,” Ligety said. “They lost their lives skiing, so I think they would have wanted us to go on.”

Chodounsky was in third place after the first of two runs but skied out in his second run while attempting to make his first career World Cup podium. Ligety also failed to finish his second run. Austrian Marcel Hirscher won.

A moment of silence was held before racing started Tuesday afternoon in Croatia. The American flag at the finish was reported to fly at half-staff.

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